* Pink Initiative: Give Because You Can

It is coincidence that Emilie Sommer (owner of emilie inc. photography, who I shoot weddings for) and I both posted about cancer today on each of our blogs. It is sad, but also evidence to me, a slap-in-the-face reminder of how cancer has both quietly and loudly permeated our lives. As I have started re-blogging only this past December, I am surprised at how many posts I am even making that relate to cancer. While I started my blog to post photography, it has slowly morphed into posting things I care about, things that have meaning, things I think are worth sharing with friends and family who visit my blog. In this day and age of technology, the blog is a platform to communicate with the world, and if I am going to share something on it, it better be worthwhile of your time and mine.

So this is another "non-photography" post that I feel is worth your time.

Please take the time to read Em's post about Pink Initiative here.

* Cancer Community Center: Cycle4Care

If you have never heard about the Cancer Community Center that may be a good thing. Maybe that means you've never had to deal with a loved one fighting cancer. However, chances are you do know someone, probably enough someones to count on one hand or, sadly, both hands. Even just one someone is too many in my opinion. For this reason, I say it's unfortunate if you have never heard about the Cancer Community Center, because they offer support and programming to people living with cancer, their families, and their friends -- all for free.

I had never heard of the CCC and was moved by their mission. I learned of the organization through fellow Peaks Islanders Barbara and Chris Hoppin who were taking part in the second annual Cycle4Care fundraising ride for the CCC. Barbara helped make this fundraiser a reality after learning about the huge indoor riding event her treatment facility holds -- the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center -- that raises millions of dollars for research of rare cancers.

It was very last minute, only a couple days before the ride, but I decided to help raise as much money as possible for the CCC and joined their team, appropriately named Hoppin' on a Bike! The experience was amazing, the energy was infectious, and the attitudes were uplifting. The ride was held at Zone 3 Fitness in Scarborough and was the perfect facility for Cycle4Care. The space is bright and invigorating, the spin bikes are great, the coaches are encouraging.

I was overwhelmed with the support and donations I received for my cause when I put the last-minute word out that I was going to ride for an hour. I know I've already said it, but thank you for contributing to a community organization that deserves it. I felt super after an hour ride, which has made me think I can do the three hour challenge next year! Bring it on. A little sweat and achy muscles is nothing compared to what people with cancer go through physically and emotionally. Riding for three hours is the least I can do.

Thanks to everyone who makes this event possible, particularly the venerable Jennifer Nelson, Development Director for the CCC. And thanks again to all the people who donate. This event could not be a success without you.

Please visit my Cycle4Care page here if you like to donate. Even though we already rode for the event, I learned this page will stay active for a while longer. Really, the need is always there, not just for this event. Any donation is greatly appreciated. Thank you again!

Donate and learn about the Cancer Community Center

The spin bike -- our friend for the Cycle4Care event. Monica Swan, Director of Fitness Programming at Zone 3 Fitness, preps the tunes for the ride.

Monica helps fit a rider to a spin bike. The rider is the daughter-in-law of Barbara and Chris Hoppin who introduced me to the CCC and whose fundraising team I joined.

Monica adjusts the resistance on the bike for an uphill climb. Butts off the seats and pedal!

A great group of riders. The room was filled with some infectious, excited energy.

Jennifer Nelson (center), Development Director at the Cancer Community Center, speaks with Nicole Avery, Owner/Manager of Zone 3 Fitness as she walks on the treadmill. I learned at the event that there were other options for participating in Cycle4Care aside from the biking. The treadmill and arc machine, which is like an elliptical, rounded out Jennifer's three hour challenge, so she wasn't bored doing just one activity the entire time. Something to keep in mind, folks, if you're interested in participating next year!

Monica turns up the climbing dial again.

Monica leads the group in an arm stretch.

That feels oh-so-good on the triceps!

All smiles riding!

Impressive skills -- texting and riding.

I think the rider in the pink is telling her friend she can text faster than she can.

Pedal faster, pedal harder!

Stretch those arms and abs!

Nicole was the coach for my ride and was great, super encouraging.

Ms. Nelson hard at work. She never stops.

Kelly LaBrecque (left), Meteorologist for Portland's WCSH-6 News Center came out to support the Cancer Community Center.

Amazingly generous sponsors helped make the Cycle4Care event a success. Thank you!

Much needed water and sweat towels were provided.

More smiles. I'm telling you, this is such a fun event. Do it next year with me.....

..... You can go as hard or easy as you want. It is not a race. It is just a great way to raise money for a worthy, much needed cause and community organization.

Jennifer Nelson (left) on the arc machine for her second leg of her three hour challenge. Her first hour was on the treadmill and her last hour was on the bike. She's an animal.

The Cancer Community Center is located on Main Street in South Portland, Maine, just past Governor's Restaurant on Route 1.

My fellow Peaks Islanders Barbara and Chris Hoppin, who introduced me to the CCC.

Their son Jim (right photo) was visiting from New York. He works for a company that produces films for PBS and captured some moving pictures of the fundraiser. I'd say he and his dad have a similar smile!

Barbara's feet are a blur they're walking so fast.

Breathing deep and feeling the ride.

A room full of folks riding for a good cause.

Another smiling meteorologist joined the ride -- Charlie Lopresti, Chief Meteorologist of Portland's WGME News 13. I think he had to go to work that night after his ride. Maybe next year as part of promotion for the Cycle4Care event, Charlie Lopresti and Kelly LaBrecque should give a weather report while riding a spin bike. Yeah, do it!

Lots of legs working hard.

This animated woman, whose name I unfortunately do not have, was selling jewelry at a little table at the Cycle4Care event and the sales were going to the Cancer Community Center.

Monica after her coaching ride, trying not to notice me snapping a photo of her. Even sweaty and camera-aware, she still manages a great smile.

No rest for the weary. Like the other rider who can text while cycling, I am maybe more impressed by Jennifer's simultaneous skill of talking and arc-ing. I have had my moments on the elliptical without a phone, so I know this takes coordination. She was calling her mother, who was on her way to the event.

Cooling down from a hard ride.

Just as I was leaving for the night, a gaggle of girls crowded in to start their ride. I believe they were from a local college. Of course, Jennifer was right there on top of everything.

Barbara and Chris Hoppin's daughter-in-law (right) speaks to their niece (center) who was up from Boston to ride for Cycle4Care. She is training for the Boston Marathon, too.

Thanks to the generous sponsors of Cycle4Care. There was plenty of delicious food to keep the participants fueled. I felt slightly odd chowing down after a healthy, sweaty ride, but my Subway sandwich was much needed and hit the spot.

Until next year..... !


* Happy Belated St. Patrick's Day!

Some folks somewhere in this world -- maybe in South Boston and London, Ontario -- are still recovering from their St. Patrick's Day festivities. My brother lives in Southie, but visited Peaks for the weekend to avoid the craziness, and when he and my father rolled back into town later last night, they said people were still stumbling around, roaming the streets. I had actually forgotten it was the day, until I bumped into a friend at 10am on Saturday who said he was late to meet folks at RiRa (a.k.a. my home-away-from-home, because it's next to Casco Bay Lines and they have stellar staff). He was supposed to be there at 7am! The motherly instinct in me yelled "Be safe, be careful!" as he scurried off to begin partying, reveling in the fact that the holiday provided an excuse to start drinking before noon. I celebrated by working at Sugarloaf Mountain, where I do childcare on the weekends, attended a fun, happy Donovan Frankenreiter show, and skied slushy bumps in 70 degree weather all weekend (let's just hope the snow lasts a couple more weeks)! Hope you enjoyed your St. Patrick's Day! I pulled a few night shots from my archive of local Irish establishments RiRa and Brian Boru shot in 2008 and 2009. Both have very cool murals on their exterior walls. Portland, in general, has some cool artwork on buildings, which is an ongoing subject I'm exploring and will post more of. Night photography is also another ongoing subject that I will post about.

SIDE NOTE: I am trying to shoot and post recent images as well as some older shots from the vaults. Honestly, most all of my archive just sits on my hard drives. I find with digital I shoot and shoot, but then they never see the light of day. My goal of blogging regularly that began this past December forces me to actually do something with these images, which is a good thing. While I don't want to live in the past per se, editing them forces me to critique my own, older work and challenges me to make newer, hopefully better pictures.